Communications Convening Group: Viral Marketing

As an intern for a nonprofit organization, I am able to attend the Nonprofit Center workshops and communications convening groups as a staff member. This month, I chose to attend the Viral Marketing communications convening group.

During the hour, communications representatives from various nonprofits in Jacksonville discussed viral marketing and a very specific viral marketing campaign that shook Facebook this past summer: the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. In previous posts, I mentioned the scheme, and I’m sure everyone reading this has not only heard of the challenge but may have even participated in it.

If you are one of the rare few, here is a Ted Talks that you may find insightful. Also, here is a link to the ALS Association’s compilation of some of the most notable videos.

At the table, drinking coffee and sampling donuts, we talked about the probability of recreating a viral marketing campaign as effective as the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Many agreed that it would be nigh impossible to bottle the magic of the viral campaign; however, there was discussion about why it was so effective.

While to those outside of the communications field may assume its success was by mere happenstance, it is clear, through observation, that the Ice Bucket Challenge was no random fluke. One of the individuals in the group pointed out that, specifically, an ice bucket challenge would not have worked during any other season, and that the timing, not just the season, was perfect because the coming election would have cluttered social media news feeds.

Additionally, it was noted that a challenge forces people to get involved even if they know nothing about the cause. Peer pressure can be a strong motivator, and people tend to look for ways to brand themselves by “liking” pages and “checking in” at certain locations. It tells the world who they are, and it adds to their Internet identity. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was perfect for social media prolific millennials who want to be seen, heard, and understood.

Out of the sixty minutes spent discussing how the success of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has forced organizations to re-think their marketing strategies, we were also able to share personal viral marketing endeavors involving the nonprofits we serve.


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